Friday, February 5, 2010


You’ve all seen the infomercials, the highly sculpted, bronzed Tony Horton telling you that even you can have a P90X body in 90 days. Even you can commit to this program because you will never get bored with the 12 different workouts. Even you can commit to this diet plan because you will get the cookbook filled with delicious, low calorie, low fat foods that anyone can cook regardless of skill. And this time it will be effective because this workout causes something they Beach Body people call Muscle Confusion™. (Interesting that you can trademark that phase, but I digress.) Muscle Confusion™ is basically the theory that your muscles will never plateau because you keep changing the workouts and your body never actually acclimates to it. As a result, your muscles continue to work as hard over time as they did when you began your workouts and you continue to get stronger and leaner. This is not only a great theory, and it actually works.

My wife and I are both pretty health conscious people. She was a competitive body builder and a personal trainer, I am a yoga instructor and we both work out regularly with a combination of cardiovascular activity, weight training, yoga and tai chi. Nonetheless, every once in awhile, we like to shake things up a bit and do something different. We decided that we wanted to shake things up by P90X-ing our way to perfection. We ordered, it arrived, we hung the pull up bar, we began. We figured that despite the fact that we are both ice cream addicts, we could do anything for 90 days. I was a little more committed to the cause having never been a competitive body builder with 3% body fat, and I was truly intrigued as to what I might look like in such a state.

I did take the “before” picture which I can thankfully say that I deleted from the digital camera before it saw the light of day. Granted it wasn’t that bad a picture, but I did what they always do with those “before” and “after” photos and put on my crappiest sports bra and my giant grandma panties. I was laughing the whole time, but I had to look my worst to give myself the greatest distance to go in my path to the perfect body. That’s just how it’s done.

I cooked from the cookbook and we worked out with the videos. We followed the protocol by the letter for about 4 weeks and then our bodies started failing us. Now mind you, we are not Adonis by any stretch of the imagination, but we are above average in physical fitness level. Our cardio capacity and endurance is greater, our strength to weight ratio is higher, and ability to withstand the pain of a workout is larger. Nonetheless, this workout program kicked both of our asses.

The introduction to all of the video CDs provides a warning that P90X is an extreme workout and that you should not do it if you have any sort of physical issues. This is an understatement. We didn’t have physical issues before we started, we did when we stopped. Although each of the videos within P90X is fantastic in and of itself, the rigorous combination of the 12 of them with little rest is more than most people can and should take. The sheer quantity of pull ups and push ups that one must do in a week are mind numbing and unfortunately the sheer number of repetitive exercises led to some repetitive injuries. Nothing that a little time and rest didn’t fix, but definitely enough to make us stop the program. I’m not talking about muscle pain here and there which we are both used to, and actually rather enjoy to some extent. No I’m talking about joint and tendon pain. I’m talking about badness in elbows and shoulders and knees. I’m talking about pains that I didn’t get when I trained for the Houston Marathon and my wife didn’t get when she was winning body building competitions. That kind of pain.

The ads for P90X state that it is an extreme fitness program, and extreme it is. I am not sure that I want to meet the person that can make it through the whole program, all exercises, every repetition, as developed. I would have to say it would take, among other things, superhuman strength and perfect joints to get though the full 90 days without a major physical crisis. Maybe I do want to meet that person, I’d ask them what they put in their cornflakes, because I definitely want some. Although I may not have the kindest things to say about the program as a whole, I can and will say that P90X is still worth the money because the videos are exceptional and the workouts, while challenging and excessive as a 90 day program, are fantastic when done individually.

I can’t in good conscious actually recommend the P90X program as advertised, since I think that most people of average or even above average fitness levels will find themselves struggling and in some sort of non-muscle related pain, but I can recommend the videos as individual workouts to bring your daily routine up a notch. We still scatter the video workouts into our regular fitness routine, but have not yet recommitted to the whole 90 day program. Both of us are a little scared to try. Granted neither of us is 20 anymore, and our bodies don’t heal quite as fast as they used to, but 4 months of recovery for 4 weeks of workouts just isn’t right. The numbers just don’t work.

I never made it to the “after” photo. I’m pretty sure that after the 4 weeks I was leaner and stronger and looked much better in the grandma panties, although I can’t be too sure. After that photo, I tossed them. We’re all much better off without those in the world.

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